Now that we’ve been sharing some of the behind-the-scenes nitty gritty with you – we thought you might be interested to learn about how we are continuously working to improve our knowledge and implement new ideas and practices, or enhance existing programs, based on our education by animal welfare industry experts and leaders.

Last October, as we were really getting started forming the board, Founder/Director, Angela Adams, and Board President, Julie Honse, attended the Best Friends Animal Society’s “No More Homeless Pets” Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The costs of this educational trip were covered by one special donor who felt the importance of this opportunity to gain some basic foundation building blocks was crucial at this early stage of building the non-profit business.

The format was conducive to not only networking with other animal welfare organizations and brain-sharing each other’s methods and best practices, but also hearing from leaders of the “no kill” movement, i.e. eliminating euthanasia from the animal welfare industry, and then picking and choosing from a myriad of individual classes based on our most pressing and relatable needs. There were so many necessary classes that Angela and Julie divided and conquered to attend even more sessions, then come together to share all the knowledge they’d picked up individually.

The ladies were able to take back and implement pearls gained from the Executive Director, Stacey Coleman, from Animal Farm Foundation (a nationally known and respected pit bull type dog-specific group), Kathy Rosenthal, a national PR and Media expert who specializes in helping to change the perception of pit bull type dogs by the public, Lori Weise, Director of Downtown Dog Rescue (another leader in targeted spay and neuter community days for pit bull type dogs—they have a very successful model in East LA), Ledy VanKavage, Esquire, Senior Legislative Attorney at Best Friends, who tirelessly works to create and pass legislation from state to state to punish the owners of dangerous dogs (and not the dogs themselves), as well as meet with countless successful “model” organizations with thriving foster programs and incredibly low or non-existing euthanasia rates—Salt Lake County Animal Services and Austin Pets Alive were two in particular that so much was gleaned from  They were also able to meet and learn from the founders of Best Friends as well as several other pioneers—Rich Avanzino, President of Maddi’s Fund and Mike Arms, former Director of the North Shore Animal League and current Executive Director of the Helen Woodward Animal Center (just outside of San Diego).

The key takeaways from attending this conference have been thought through and reconstructed to fit the BAPBR model and have been gradually implemented, a bit at a time, each month since then.

The next conference will be in October and early bird registration at a discounted rate is already open–to anyone who wants to attend, but it does sell out, as does the hotel room block. http://events.bestfriends.org/Upcoming/nmhp

But the learning didn’t stop there!  As a result of Angela and Julie’s meeting with Mike Arms, they were invited to attend a free, intensive 3-day workshop that Mike and his staff put on at the Helen Woodward Animal Center in southern California.  The workshop curriculum included a department head teaching from every department and program of the entire animal facility—from financials and budgeting to pet therapy programs to events and fundraising to human resources, adoptions, you get the picture…and because it was offered at no cost, BAPBR was able to bring a total of four attendees from the board to accompany Angela.  Says Angela about the prospect of the invitation, “I wanted to go to ACES after hearing Mike Arms speak at the Best Friends conference last year. I was excited to learn more about running BAPBR as a business. I felt that in order for BAPBR to be successful in the long run, we really needed to run it as a business and not devalue what we do for pit bull type dogs by not planning for the future–the dogs will most likely always need help.”

It’s safe to say that everyone took back several important pearls of wisdom, and again, great contacts were made through other attendees, BAPBR continues to implement all the pertinent advice as we grow this business each month.  Board Secretary and Volunteer Coordinator, Lizz Smith attended and had this to say about what she learned, “I had many “a-ha” moments during the conference. But I loved most when Mike Arms said something to the effect of, ‘The dogs don’t have a say in where they were born. A dog in need, is a dog in need, and it shouldn’t matter where they come from’–this really resonated with me. I’m proud of all the work we do at BAPBR, both locally and in California.”

Much of it is invisible to the our supporters because it ties to our organizational infrastructure – but still,  you should have by now seen many new improvements and changes with our general look and feel, branding and overall practices:  Consistent, professional quality dog profile photos and blog photos, re-written content for the current website with new messaging (stay tuned for a completely new from top to bottom, re-launched website in the next couple of months that we are hard at work on), a blog, consistent promotions and marketing of adoptable dogs, an ever-growing list of events that BAPBR is involved in or planning, more BAPBR in the press/news and the continued development of our California Dogs program to save even more lives.

We also first met with Ark Sciences and learned all about non-invasive zinc neutering options there, as well – which has led to BAPBR helping plan and organize a zinc neuter training day for local animal welfare groups in our area, we well as introducing Ark Sciences to important groups like Multnomah County Animal Services.  Says Julie, Board President, about the experience, “We were given not only a generous and invaluable educational experience on every aspect of running our animal welfare organization as a true business–having templates and best practices shared from every department at Helen Woodward, but also were able to meet some excellent people to know through the lunch time guest speakers to the fellow attendees, everything was a positive and beneficial experience.”

As we continue to grow this business—we take our education seriously.  We are in the business of saving lives—and just like any for-profit business, we must grow it and make it sustainable, to prepare BAPBR to continue to help orphaned pit bull type dogs and Not-a-Bulls for years to come—for whomever is helping lead the organization in the future.

Thank you for your continued support and for coming along for the ride!